This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
BOOK REVIEW


Farmers Royalty Company “Drill Bits & Plowshares”


R By Elaine Warner


eaders have all sorts of choices of types of books to enjoy. Writers have choices, too. Some look for big bucks with potboilers and thrillers; others simply have a passion for a particular subject. His- torian Paul F. Lambert has authored and co-authored a number of books including a centennial history of Oklahoma, a biography of aviatrix Pearl Carter Scott and several books about oil in Oklahoma. But what made him choose to write a book about a small, private company few Oklahomans have heard about? “I’ve written a lot about the history of oil and gas in Oklahoma and I ran across a rather unique company—a kind I’d never heard of before,” Lambert says. “It was based on the principles of a farmers’ co-op. This company has endured through cyclical hard times and to this day has never borrowed a dollar.” The result of this interest was a book on the history of Farmers Royalty


Company, “Drill Bits & Plowshares.” The meticulously documented volume describes the company history from the birth of the idea through its 87-year history. The seeds of the company were planted when W.H. (Alfalfa Bill) Murray, Campbell Russell and other farm leaders brought the concept of the Texas- born National Farmers’ Union to Oklahoma and Indian Territories before statehood. Farmers united in a feeling that they were being taken advantage of by moguls, middlemen and market forces beyond their control. In the nineteen-teens, Oklahoma Farmers’ Union (OFU) President John A. Simpson added a dynamic leadership style which brought new energy to the organization. Zeddie Hampton Lawter, a friend and OFU secretary, worked closely with Simpson. Under their leadership, the “Oklahoma Union Farmer,” the group’s newspaper, was founded and cooperative gins, stores, and grain elevators were set up throughout the state. In Texas, Panhandle Royalty Company (1926) had been established as a co-operative pool of mineral rights owned by farmers. By the end of 1928, Simpson and Lawter were ready to form the Oklahoma Union Co-operative Royalty Company.


In the beginning, only members of the OFU were allowed to participate. Farmers would put a portion of their interest in mineral royalties into the pool and would be paid in shares rather than cash. When the Depression and later tough times hit, the company felt the effects but never faltered. The founding principles were sound. Lambert’s book describes stockholder and directors’ meetings; organiza- tional strategies to make the company more efficient and self-sufficient are carefully catalogued. The relationships between directors, management and stockholders were designed to promise maximum benefit to stockholders rather than any one leader or group of leaders. Farmers’ Union Co-operative Royalty Company, whose name was changed in 2007, also changed with the times. Once only involved with mineral


30


“I’ve written a lot about the history of oil and gas in Oklahoma and I ran across a rather unique company—a kind I’d never heard of before. This company has endured through cyclical hard times and to this day has never borrowed a dollar.” - Paul F. Lambert, historian and author


rights, the company and its stockholders approved moving into partici- pation in drilling operations in 1970. Every change in business practices was approached conservatively—no wild-cat operation here. And stock- holders benefited from the deliberative action of board and manage- ment. While the book is heavy with financial details, there are also biographies of past presidents and board chairmen. They include farmers and ranch- ers, geologists and educators—all having a love of the land and possessing strong senses of morality. “Drill Bits & Plowshares” provides no cliffhangers for excitement seek-


ers. What it does provide is a picture of a company with a strong code of ethics and proof that integrity can go hand-in-hand with success. Current FRC president Mason Mungle states, “Farmers Royalty Company has always treated our shareholders with respect and has tried to treat those operators we deal with as ethically and honestly as we can.” In the contemporary business climate, it is easy to become cynical. It is refreshing to read about a business as transparent as this one—and one that truly does seem to operate with the Golden Rule in mind. The author was so impressed that he later bought a share in the company. “Drill Bits & Plowshares: The History of Farmers Royalty Company” is available at the Oklahoma History Center Museum Store or can be or- dered online at www.okhistory.org.


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138